In the early days of digital marketing, brands and businesses could get away with a lot of shady tactics: overwhelming email spam, sketchy banners and over-the-top, aggressive marketing messages. Flash forward to today, consumers are wiser and they have an arsenal of anti-spam and ad blocker tools that promote consumer empowerment and help them keep the BS nonsense to a minimum.
For businesses, this shift in web consumerism means that your customers' behavior has changed and so have their expectations from you. At the same time, over the last 10 years or so, the web has seen a surge in both the number and popularity of social media sites. Putting two and two together, by now we all know how valuable, or even essential, social media can be, bringing businesses the opportunity to grow lasting relationships with their customer base. It's a great place for people to communicate and interact online.
So everyone knows that social media is an important tool in business but gazing across the overcrowded spaces of social media, as a business owner or marketer, how do you know where on earth their target market is? After all, the number of people using, for example, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr is so colossal that to take into account the typical demographic of these social networking services is practically meaningless. Sure it helps to know that Pinterest is skewed towards women and Tumblr towards youth and that there are more women on Facebook than men while the reverse is true for Twitter but most of the platforms are so huge in terms of the number of users that you can find representatives of your target audience on any of them.
Therefore the key to a social presence with a far-reaching impact for your business is social media market research to carefully look for your audience rather than broadcasting your messages aimlessly and to whoever is willing to listen. After all, the greatest value of social media marketing is your ability to foster and engage with a community of other people and there are so many tools to help you do that.
Social Media Marketing Driven By Research
Here is the deal: Consumers today have a wealth of resources available literally at their fingertips including customer reviews, blog posts and competitor websites among other things. So when Dell's executive director of global marketing, Rishi Dave, says today's consumers are almost through their buying journeys by the time they reach out to your sales reps, he is onto something. So you might as well fully support this shift in consumer behavior instead of fighting it. By making your content available precisely when your prospects have questions, you can answer the 3 important questions that today's consumers ask:
1. What's in it for me?
2. How will I benefit from using your product?
3. Will your product give me the most bangs for my bucks?
But for that to happen, businesses need to create and distribute the right information tailoring what they create to the specific needs of their audience. Otherwise, because consumers are constantly bombarded with aggressive marketing messages and hard sell tactics, they've become natural skeptics and they'll filter you right out if your content does not appeal to their rational or emotional brains. Ideally you want to target both mindsets by focusing on, ultimately what people care about most, personal gain with a clear and compelling benefit.
The Value Of Personalization
So far we've established that the days of broad-casted marketing messages are gone. If you want to foster engagement as a brand and build a reputation around familiarity, trust and like-ability, you need to be able to reach your target audience. To do this, you need to:
1. Create Buyer Personas
In contrast to typical market research that focuses on traditional marketing demographics, creating buyer personas means taking your buyers one segment at a time and answering questions about them. As you build the profile of your target audience, you find out about their motivations. Subsequently, when you craft your marketing messages, you can talk to these people directly and appeal to them using all the right triggers. This will help you humanize your content marketing and copywriting.
2. Know What Their Problem Is
If you want to create and publish marketing messages that resonate with your audience, you need to focus on establishing a crystal-clear empathy with them. One of the best ways to do this in social media is monitoring discussions and distilling meaningful bits from the massive flow of information that takes place on the social networks. It's also a vital first step to improve any return on your investment.
3. Target Some Influencers
By definition, influencers are people that hold other people's attention in some way. In social media, if you want to extend the reach of your content and increase the impact of your business, these people have the power to influence the decisions of your number one target audience. If you identify the influencers in your industry, you can start building important relationships with them and earn their trust so that, in time, they positively influence your target market and tilt the scales in your favor.
Perhaps one of the biggest marketing mistakes that businesses make is trying to appeal to everyone. In truth, no matter what you sell or how big or, conversely, small your business is, defining a target audience is a business best practice.
Recommended Tools You Can Use To Identify Who And Where Your Target Audience Is
In this era of social media, having a social media marketing strategy goes beyond having a Facebook page or Twitter feed. The approach to correctly executed social media marketing is as follows:
1. You need to identify the social networks where your target audience is active.
2. You need to craft your marketing messages so they resonate with your target audience.
3. You need to create a steady stream of buyers to complement your website's conversion process.
And measurement is key to the process. If you don't measure what you do, there is no proof that it worked. Social media analysis and market research has 3 general components to it.
Encompassing things like analysis of account growth and competitive progress, measurement is important to collect quantitative social media data. Combined, metrics like growth in followers and likes, reach and CTR can give you a pretty good idea of how well your audience is responding to your content so you can do more of what they like and less of what is not resonating with them. Recommended tools for measurement include:
Get the help you need to measure and optimize your social media marketing.
The tool you need to identify influencers and your competitors' most shared content.
Research tools you can use to find out the best ways to engage your audience.
2. Listening And Insights
Part of the beauty of social media is unprecedented access to conversations. Therefore, when it comes to social media market research to optimize your marketing efforts and ultimately improve your ROI, listening tools can go a long way in informing you of important customer pain points, lucrative competitive opportunities and other useful insights. Recommended tools for listening include:
Search and analyze the web for the latest topics related to your industry and for mentions of your brand, products and/or competitors.
Build more meaningful relationships with customers by tapping into the power of social media and analyzing conversations from across the globe.
An all-in-one platform to research, track and manage your Facebook and Twitter marketing activities including competitive analysis.
3. Monitoring And Response
And finally, on a more tactical front, marketers need to monitor all of the above social conversations in order to derive actionable takeaways. Monitoring and response tools are also often effective for use as a primary content distribution platform. Recommended tools for social media monitoring include:
A social media management platform powered by artificial intelligence.
A one-stop shop to manage social networks and give you an in-depth view of how well your social media efforts are paying off.
Find opportunities to engage and analyze all your social efforts to create exceptional experiences for your audience across the different social networks.
Of course some of the above tools can serve more than one need.
A great tool for capturing the value of social media and measuring the social media and business metrics you care about.
Social Reports within Google Analytics can help you with, predominantly, 3 things:
1. Identifying the quantitative and qualitative value of traffic coming from the different social channels.
2. Understanding social activities taking place both on and off your website.
3. Inform data-driven decisions to increase the return on your investment.